Great American Life Ordered to Pay $11.2 Million

March 7, 2000

A Dallas couple has been awarded $11.2 million in damages on claims that Cincinnati-based insurer Great American Life Insurance Company was guilty of fraud and misrepresentation.

Jack and Kathran Martin, who worked as managing general agents for Great American Life, told the jury in Dallas’ 191st District Court that the company fraudulently terminated its business relationship with them, depriving the couple of sales commissions generated by 150 sub-agents.

After two hours of deliberation March 3, the jury found that Great American Life fraudulently misrepresented the reason for terminating the Martins, subsequently awarding them $2.8 million in actual damages and $8.4 million in punitive damages.

The Martins filed suit against Great American Life in 1996, but the case did not go to trial until last month. The Martins began working with Great American Life in 1982, building a network of 150 sub-agents who sold more than $100 million of the company’s annuity products.

It was not until 1994 that the Martins’ relationship with Great American Life suffered. The couple had encountered financial difficulties and sought relief through filing bankruptcy. Beforehand, they contacted Great American Life to make sure the filing would not affect their business relationship. The company reportedly said it would not.

But after they filed, Great American Life terminated them. According to Mark Werbner, the Martins’ attorney, Great American used the bankruptcy as a pretext to cut the Martins out of their commissions.

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